My birth story has elements of dreaminess and mysticism because that’s how I experienced it. I used notes from the doula and phone call/text records to figure out the timelines because after a certain point my mind was very much in the here-and-now and not looking at the clock.
I woke up around 4 am on Friday, October 8 with some cramps that felt like period cramps. These had been happening off and on for many days before so I didn’t think much of it. But this time I couldn’t fall asleep through them. I had read somewhere that one way to tell the difference between false labor and true labor was that changes in position could make the cramps stop. So to test it out, I decided to go to the gym. On the exercise bike, I felt a cramp– this was definitely not going away. I finished the workout at the lowest level of intensity possible and texted our doula Julia.
“Is this labor?” I asked her. She said that it might be, but it could go away or stop entirely, and that the best course of action was to put the discomfort as much in the background and continue about my day with my body doing the work without too much effort. So, I continued about my normal workday, went to my 39-week appointment, and went to hear some live music close by. I got home at 7, fixed some dinner, and sat on a yoga ball to watch Friday Night Lights. I remembered the advice to start the TENS units in early labor so I fixed them onto my back. Around 9 pm I lost the plot of the TV show so-called Alex home from his pickup hockey game. Things were getting intense. I called Julia, she advised me to try to walk to put myself to sleep and to call the midwives. Around 11 pm Alex and I found ourselves walking the block with the midwives on speakerphone. We told them the contractions were about 6 minutes apart. They advised us to wait.
Since the midwives indicated that it could be a long night, I sent Alex upstairs to bed and settled myself down on the yoga ball in the living room. I moved back and forth from the ball, draping myself over it and trying to relax my arms as much as possible, to the toilet, where I straddled the bowl and rested on the top of the tank. Around 1 am I decided to start timing the contractions again. The TENS unit, which had reduced the bite of the contraction, wasn’t working as well. I couldn’t keep my arms relaxed. I was 3 minutes apart but the contractions weren’t a minute long. I called Julia and she convinced me that I should probably start making moves toward the hospital.
I walked up the stairs to get Alex, but a contraction hit so instead of saying anything intelligible to him, I stood at the foot of the bed and let out a low loud moan. He woke up totally confused, but with some convincing, started moving our bags and calling our friend who had offered to give us a ride to the hospital. The bumps were terrible, and I vomited out the window on the way there. Luckily it was 2 in the morning and no one saw!
By 3 am we were in triage. I was not in a state to answer questions but luckily because we were dropped off Alex handled the paperwork and the questions. I found being on my back super uncomfortable, same with the monitors. The midwife checked my dilation– I didn’t want to know the number but I later found out I was 7 cm dilated.
They moved us to the birthing room and we vaguely discussed the tub, but I was in the throes of increasingly strong waves…. and was pacing around the room leaning on whatever I could find when a contraction hit. I also feel like I distinctly lost the ability to suggest anything, responding to a conversation with the simplest things I could think of. Someone suggested the shower while I waited for the tub. I removed the TENS units and stepped in. The waves were crashing hard now. I remember thinking “I am not sure how many more of these I can take” when the nurse walked in to monitor me. Seeing the half squat stance I had assumed in the shower, she asked if I was feeling the urge to push. Since I realized I was already pushing, I agreed to leave the shower so I could be examined. I stopped in the doorway, squatted like a sumo wrestler, and BAM, my water broke all over the floor and down my legs. I felt so relieved! I was pretty much there. At the time it was about 4:30 am.
Little did I know I’d end up pushing for another 3 hours.
The midwife checked me and said that a lip of my cervix was still over the baby’s head. She manually pushed it back and then it was time to push. Julia was finally allowed into the room. I pushed squatting but my hips cramped up, I pushed standing on the bed holding the bar like some kind of demented superhero, naked and roaring, I pushed on all fours. I was sweating and so so tired. I couldn’t figure out how to push in the right places, so I was tensing everything from my arms to my feet in an effort to get the baby out. I was losing confidence– I kept asking Julia– the baby is going to come out, right? Julia, realizing I hadn’t eaten or really drunk anything since 7 that evening, started pushing fluids and juice into me. The midwife suggested that I receive some coaching on my pushing and moved me to my back on the bed, with my legs in the air. Here is when time got super fun for me. My body, which had been accelerating along, seemed to slow way down. Each contraction rose like gathering thunderclouds and I would watch like I was a passenger floating off in outer space until the contraction hit and I was blasted back into my body which felt like it was doing the pushing without waiting for me to guide it. Someone asked if I wanted music. “The Backstreet Boys: Everybody,” I said. Alex pulled it up on Spotify. I don’t know if I pushed longer than a song or not.
Finally, I was learning to control my breathing and managing to draw a full breath before giving into the incredible urge to push. I worried about how many more I would need to do but the team kept telling me that with every push the baby was getting closer. And on and on it went– floating out in space in between, taking precious sips offered by Julia and Alex, then assembling the team to hold my legs as I rose up and pushed harder than I thought I could. I became vaguely aware that more people were being called into the room. The sky was getting lighter. Finally, I felt a round shape and a stretching. So close! A few more pushes, a wrench, and a twist, and suddenly a screaming baby was placed onto my stomach. In between shivers, I looked down at this little being that I had journeyed through time and space with me. Alex cut the cord and made the announcement. It’s a boy! We did it! I said over and over and over again.
Theodore “Teddy” Trutko was born on October 9, 2021 at 7:44 am.
Written by Teddy’s mom.